Buio Omega (aka Beyond the Darkness)


Also known as Blue Holocaust and Buried Alive (which is the name I first saw it under, when I was a wee teenager), this mean little slice of Eurosleaze comes to us courtesy of Joe D’Amato, one of the more talented masters of Eurosleaze.

The story is about a young taxidermist named Frank who is madly in love with his ailing wife (played by the waifish Cinzia Monreale, who went on to be in The Beyond, The Stendhal Syndrome, and is still making movies to this day) , who is a victim of a Voodoo doll attack carried out by their jealous housekeeper Iris (Franca Stoppi, who went on to be in several nunsploitation movies).  Iris wants to be the woman of the (rather large, expensive) house which Frank inherited from his parents.  Unfortunately for her, the quite unbalanced Frank is not the type to let things go, including his deceased wife, who he digs up and taxidermies, so he can be with her forever.
Frank and Iris have quite an unhealthy relationship to say the least, however she is happy to clean up after him such as when a hitchhiker sees him embalming his wife (and eating her heart), insuring he has to kill her (after ripping all of her fingernails off).  Iris helps give her an acid bath (after dismembering her), and later helps Frank with another girl who he invites over to have sex with while fondling his dead wife in the bed beside them.  Eventually Iris grows tired of Frank’s obsession, and that’s when things go downhill for their relationship, culmination in a bloody, eye gouging climax before the cheap, illogical ending.
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This movie is the very definition of sleazy Eurotrash gore flick.  There are several full frontal nude scenes, tons of blood and guts (I heard that D’Amato actually got ahold of a real corpse to chop up), bad dubbing (and dialogue- in one part, when Frank is running through the hospital to see his dying wife, he runs into an elderly man who shouts at him “Hey!  Who taught you how to drive?!”), and nonsensical scenes.  It also contains some pretty well done atmospheric cinematography, including some nice shadow work and camera angles (proving that D’Amato is not quite the hack a lot of people accuse him of being, at least not when it came to cinematography), lots of realistic looking gory effects, and an awesome soundtrack by the one and only GOBLIN (which the English Language version calls ‘The Goblins’ in the opening credits).  The pace is a little slow at first, but before long it picks up and you don’t go too long without some flesh or gore.
However, at heart this movie is a love story, about a man who loves his wife so much he’ll do anything to be with her forever, and the woman who’ll do anything to marry him.  How romantic- it should be a Valentine’s Day movie tradition.

Machete Kills


Last week, in my review of Argento’s Dracula 3D, I wrote: “For me, there are 3 basic levels that I can enjoy a movie on.  The first level is how good it is.  The acting, story, cinematography, direction, and originality of it.  Is it clever?  Charming?  Interesting?  Does it have anything to say?  Some movies knock several of these out of the ball park, and those are great movies.
If it fails the first level, then we drop down to the second level- does it have at least one or two of the above things done well enough that it makes up for lacking in the others?  There’s a lot of fairly bad movies that can at least craft a good atmosphere, or have a clever twist, or good comic timing; something cool about it.
Failing the above two levels, the last one is if it’s at least entertaining in some way.  Is it fun?  Over the top?  Charismatic?  Does it pack a ton of crazy shit in it to  make up for the bad story and acting?  Or is it at least so bad it’s ridiculous, and therefore fun to laugh at?”.  
Machete Kills is totally a 100% perfect example of the third level.  It has everything (except subtlety and realism)- more beheadings and machete kills than any Friday the 13th, crazy, over the top violence and characters, tough ass chics, a wild sense of humor, disembowelments, death by helicopter blade, boob guns, a laser that when you’re shot by it turns you inside out, gratuitous everything, someone getting shot about every 45 seconds, and Tom Savini.  So tho it’s not exactly a well put together cinematic cultural treasure, it’s entertaining and fun.

It did T E R R I B L E at the box office, but I recommend it.  I saw it at a bargain matinee, and I didn’t feel like I wasted my money.  You just have to have a good sense of humor and be in the mood for an over-the-top fun goofy violent grindhouse movie.

The story is about Machete Cortez, who fights evil, corruption, and the Mexican drug cartels every chance he gets.  When a terrorist with a nuclear bomb aims it at the White House, the President (Charlie Sheen) calls him up to go kill the terrorists.  He runs into trouble when the terrorist turns out to have a split personality (one good and one bad personality) and wires the bomb into a heart monitor that will send it off to the White House if his heart rate stops.  They also have to deal with a gang of heavily armed angry prostitutes and am assassin named El Camelion who can change his appearance almost to a supernatural degree (played by Waltor Goggins (from Predators and Django Unchained), Cuba Gooding, Jr, and Lady Gaga), before they finally meet the nefarious mind who masterminded the whole thing.

You can’t take this movie seriously, of course.  It’s along the lines of absolutely awesome movies like The Toxic Avenger and Street Trash, only a lot cleaner (and with more money and cgi, so not as cool).  It’s unbelievable and over the top and funny, and I enjoyed it (I liked it better than the first Machete, or director Robert Rodriguez’s grindhouse tribute he did with Quentin Tarantino Grindhouse, which I liked ok (mostly for the stuff before and between the movies).  It could have used a little more substance, instead of blowing from one zany action piece to another (just a nice moment here and there for it to all sink in), and was a little preachy in a couple of places (but not too bad or unwarranted), but entertaining enough for the likes of me.


It’s too bad it did so bad at the box office with all the crap out there that should be doing worse, but you know what they say.  There’s no accounting for taste…

October Horror Reviewzine-A-Thon 1 (feat Psycho Video, City Morgue, & Lifestyles of the Bodily Dismembered)

What do people want to do in October?  Most people I know get ready for Halloween, in many different ways.  Personally, I like to watch more horror movies than usual, and listen to spooky music and look at Halloween areas in stores, post creepy art, stuff like that.  I believe most people agree on the watching horror movies bit, at least (more horror movies are released and consumed this time of year than any other).  But the question is, what movies do you want to watch?  For every good horror movie, there are tons of bad and mediocre ones.  Why go into it uninformed when so many people passionate about their horror (as well as gore/ sleaze/ trash/ exploitation films) love to tell about them?

The next question is  where do you want to read about them?  Who’s opinion do you trust?  There are hundreds of blogs and websites dedicated to reviewing and discussing these kinds of movies, but for real passion, you need to go back to the days of underground ‘zine publishing, when you had to really make an effort to find a good off-the-beaten-path movie.  Making a blog is easy- the people putting out these ‘zines had to take a lot of time and money to get their love of horror and exploitation movies out to a viewing public.  So to help you find some good movies to rent this Halloween, I’m going to present 3 old relics of the underground reviewzine publishing era.

At PMT, we usually focus on ‘zines that have more in them than just reviews (interviews and thoughtful articles, filmographys and things like that).  But there were also movie reviewzines around back then, that were 99% nothing but movie reviews without all the articles and claptrap to get in the way of telling you how much a movie ruled or sucked.  Movie reviewzines were incredibly prevalent in the late ’80s/ early ’90s, and I have a ton of them.  Most of them were pretty mediocre, without much style or knowledge put into them.  Most of them also reviewed all the same movies.  The best you could hope for was one that had at least a couple of reviews of movies you hadn’t seen or heard of and could seek out.
Some, however, worked hard to write interesting reviews and had writers and editors with colorful personalities who you enjoyed reading.  Usually these were also put out fairly often, and were smaller and cheaper (around a dollar each or even free).  Many of these went on to become well known in the underground film ‘zine scene, and transformed into more than mere reviewzines.  Titles such as Gore Gazette, Stink, and Psychotronic Video (all of which started out local in NYC, being given away free or cheap in the Times Square area, where they showed a lot of these movies) got their start as thin (sometimes one page) reviewzines.  You got to know the writers and it was more like a (possibly drunk) friend telling you their take on whatever movies were being reviewed that month.

This month, to help you guys choose your movies to watch for October, I’m going to pick a bunch of reviewzines of varying degrees of temperment and literary competency from my big box of them at random, and put them up on PMT so you, the reader, will have plenty of reviews from the bygone trashy era to peruse at your leisure.  I don’t know where these writers are now, but their reviews live on from beyond the trash heap to inform and inspire.

The first one we’re going to focus on is one of the better ones- Psycho Video vol. 1, #5.  Most of the reviews were long and involved, but still written from a non-academic (and non-pretentious sounding) angle.  The staff all had a great sense of humor (notice their reaction to getting slagged pretty hard in the great (and sorely missed) Film Threat magazine in this issue), and this ‘zine had a lot more reviews of movies I had not seen or heard of than most of the reviewzines out at the time (I still haven’t seen a lot of the movies reviewed in this issue).
Above average.  Here’s some pages:

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This next one is far more typical of your average reviewzine- Lifestyles of the Bodily Dismembered (nice name, tho).  The reviews are amateurishly written, and very little attempt at literacy or trivia dropping or even spelling and punctuation has been made.   The main difference between this one and other reviewzines are the band interviews.  The movies reviewed are fairly typical but there are a few lesser known ones in there.  I believe it was mostly distributed in the St Paul, Minn area.  It features several longer, more in depth reviews of movies they liked, and a whole bunch of short, blurb type reviews that don’t waste your time for movies they weren’t as impressed with.

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Lastly, we have City Morgue #5, a mean spirited and nasty little reviewzine from Michigan.  Most ‘zines I have more than one issue of, but I only have this one single issue of City Morgue, so I can’t comment on how it evolved.  I can say that the editor comes off as a bit of a sexist/ racist cretin (which is probably why I only got one issue), trying to sound gruff and anti-P.C. (aping people like Rick Sullivan and especially Nick the Yak (he even says Nick’s line he used to use all the time “It’s your money!”)) but coming off as pretty pathetic.  Most of the movies reviewed (with a couple of exceptions) are the same ones most everyone reviewed around that time.  Here’s a few pages for your perusal:

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Hopefully you read some reviews and found some new movies to watch (or avoid) for the Halloween season.  Or at the least, got to see some more exhibits in the history of post modern trashaeology preserved in all their harsh, misspelled, imperfect and borderline racist (at times) glory…


Deep Red #2

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Chas Balun passed away in December of 2009 at the age of 61, but in the 25 years or so that preceded he wrote and wrote for quite a few horror and gore books and magazines including Fangoria, Gore Zone, and his baby (and I think his first) Deep Red.  It only made it to 5 or 6 issues, but they were all great, packed full of well written commentary, exposes, criticism, and in depth analysis of some of the best horror movies that were coming out at the time.

The writing is professional but not dry or pretentious or snobbish- you can tell he just loves horror and particularly gore movies, and his enthusiasm is contagious.

This issue came out in March 1988, and features a very good  article on zombie movies; long discussions of the movies Redneck Zombies, Return of the Living Dead (two of my favs), Hellraiser, and Dr. Butcher M.D.; a Sybil Danning biography, an interview with horror make-up artist Mark Shostrom, an article written by Gunner Hansen about being Gunner Hansen; letters; news; movie and ‘zine reviews; and lots of cool pictures.  It was only the second issue and it came out firing on all cylinders.  It’s really too bad it didn’t last longer, it was a great ‘zine and highly recommended.  Try to find some and buy them if you love horror and gore movies.

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Stink ‘zine #65


Stink was a sick fixture in the sleaze/ gore/ exploitation flick ‘zine culture, and was produced quite regularly by it’s creator/ editor Nick the Yak.  The issues weren’t very big, but were packed full of tons of reviews and other content lovingly dedicated to all things violent and sleazy.

Nick’s reviews were unpretentious and to the point and written from the point of view of a regular slob who just wants to see entertaining movies with lots of violence and nudity (basically, most of us).  He later became a born again Christian and quit doing Stink, but I believe that didn’t last too long (the Christian thing- I don’t think he ever started Stink back up after that).

This was the ‘biggest issue ever’, and at 34 pages, possibly the biggest one they ever did. It features several pages of movie reviews, plus some music and ‘zine reviews; a report on their collection of sick shorts they were shooting/ compiling (I wonder if they ever got finished?); full page articles/ reviews of the movies Basket Case 2, Beverly Hills Girls, and Violent Shit; a report from that year’s ‘Fangoria Weekend of Horrors’ convention, a piece on that issue’s ‘Hellhoney’ Brinke Stevens (who I recently saw in a terrible newer straight-to-dvd quickie called Dead Clowns– don’t get it.  Boooooriiinnng!) and former Hellhoney Michelle Bauer (back by popular demand); part 2 of a sicko fictional tale; a comparison of Henry: Portrait of a Serial KillerNekromantik, and Violent Shit (“which is sicker?”); and a couple of pages of old school grindhouse ads.

I miss old ‘zines like Stink– we could use their candor and non-snobbish approach to reviewing movies and non-apologetic cinematic bottom feeding.  It’s fun and entertaining.  Now go watch something sleazy and so-bad-it’s-good entertaining for ole Nick the Yak.

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